Is Ballet an under appreciated art?

Aine O'Boyle

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Ballet itself is an artform, with the human body being used in a similar manner to that of the paintbrush of an artist or the voice of a singer; conveying passion, grace, elegance and physical strength.

Despite recognising this style of dance as an artform, it is true to say that it is greatly underappreciated. Often people look at petite dancers who perform with such ease and so naturally and pay little attention to the physical and mental strength that ballet requires.

In itself, ballet is unnatural for the human body, with full body weight solely resting on one’s toes along with the unnatural extension of the hips and pelvis in many turns and positions, requiring a dancer to go through a certain extent of pain.

Ballet dancer and chairperson of DCU Dance, Amy O’Reilly, spoke about how ballet “looks easy, but little consideration goes into the bloody toes”.

“I definitely believe that ballet is a sport”  said Amy, referring to the physicality of the dance.

The physical pain of ballet will rarely translate onto the faces and expressions of dancers. Instead they dance with seeming ease, deceiving the eye into believing that ballet may not be so difficult after all.

Looks are deceiving though, as ballet requires extreme focus, dedication and passion. Like any art form, ballet dancers face constant rejection and are in an extremely competitive business, with the likelihood of a professional career rare for many.

Yet, you don’t have to be a professional to do ballet. The motto of DCU Dance is that ‘dance is for everyone’ and Amy believes this rings true to ballet in particular. Those who appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into ballet will “walk a little taller”, said Amy.

Amy has trained as a ballet dancer since the age of three with the Royal Academy of Dance and in recent years has set up her own dance school with up to 90 students.

“In transition year I started training with Youth Ballet West, training four times a week and for seven hours on a Sunday”,  she said.

“Kids as young as three are gaining confidence from doing ballet”, said Amy.

The art itself is greatly underappreciated, with many people considering it an overly strict and outdated style of dance that has little relevance in today’s world.

The truth is that ballet should be appreciated more, as those who do ballet find it benefitting so many other aspects of their lives.

Ballet is the basis of all dance. Once one has mastered the techniques of ballet they will be well set up for performing any other style of dance.